Venezuela

AP Explains: Why are protests rocking Venezuela now?

A man shouts anti-government slogans during a protest in Caracas, Venezuela, Thursday, April 20, 2017. Venezuela’s opposition looks to keep up pressure on President Nicolas Maduro, taking to the streets again one day after three people were killed and hundreds arrested in the biggest anti-government demonstrations in years. (Ariana Cubillos/Associated Press)

Venezuela is in the midst of a violent protest movement that has resulted in eight deaths this month as the country’s deeply unpopular socialist administration struggles to stay in power and a newly energized opposition calls for an immediate presidential election.

The protests began three weeks ago after the Supreme Court issued a decision stripping the opposition-controlled congress of its last remaining powers. President Nicolas Maduro later asked the court to walk back that move amid a storm of international criticism. But the attempt to take over congress unleashed long-simmering anger amid an economic crisis that has a majority of Venezuelans skipping meals and even losing weight.

Tens of thousands of protesters flooded the streets again Thursday after the government took over a General Motors plant in its first such seizure of the major company in two years.

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HOW PROTESTS STARTED

The opposition scored a stunning landslide victory in 2015 legislative elections amid growing frustration with Maduro’s handling of the economy. Opposition leaders vowed to seek his ouster through constitutional means, but the government-stacked Supreme Court has stopped them at every turn.

Then in late March, the Supreme Court issued a ruling nullifying the body altogether. The court quickly reversed that ruling, but opposition leaders say the socialist administration revealed its true dictatorial ambitions. The country has seen near-daily protests ever since.

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WHAT’S AT STAKE

The big fear is a repeat of the…

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